Directed by Elisabeth Coronel, Florence Gaillard & Arnaud de Mezamat • Documentary • With Simone Lagrange • 2009 • 88 minutes
In AS A YOUNG GIRL OF 13, Holocaust survivor Simone Lagrange recounts in detail her life before the war, her deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and her role in bringing Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie to justice.
Essentially an extended conversation interspersed with archival images and earlier footage of Lagrange, AS A YOUNG GIRL OF 13 is an engaging portrait of a woman determined to never let her spirit be broken. As a schoolgirl, she threw an inkwell at a teacher who singled out the Jews in her classroom. At Auschwitz she squeezed ink out of the identification number tattooed on her arm. In an anteroom to the gas chambers, potentially moments from death, she refused to stand for a the camp commandant, so infuriating him that he slapped her and had her taken out of his sight-thereby saving her life.
Simone Lagrange's story echoes that of many Holocaust survivors. But what truly makes this documentary outstanding is her perceptiveness and the sharpness of her memory. Years after the war, Lagrange was one of the Holocaust survivors who recognized Klaus Barbie. AS A YOUNG GIRL OF 13 includes footage of her testimony at his trial, and a television appearance in which she says she has no doubt he is the same man who tortured her. It is a story that she tells eloquently in this remarkable film.
"One settles in to watch...wondering what new or unfamiliar dimensions of terror can possibly be learned, what 'lessons' can be gleaned?...Lagrange's story disperses these questions in feelings of sorrow, admiration, and inspiration." -Cineaste